Thursday, March 4, 2021

Update on my Daughter's Old School Essentials Campaign: Session 3

Original map by Professor Dungeon Master 
from the DungeonCraft YouTube Channel. You
can get the full map, notes, tips & new rules
and more on his Patreon
Last year, I decided to start a D&D campaign for my daughter (11) and her friends, and to use Old School Essentials, a modern statement that is 100% accurate and faithful to the Moldvay B/X "Basic" D&D rules I started with, but with new, easier-to-reference layout and presentation. I began soliciting ideas here on the blog and on social media for fun things to do in the campaign, and after a virtual "Session 0" to explain how to use dice and go over terminology, we had our first socially-distanced session last fall in one of the player's backyards with each family at a different table. We're a bit lucky in that for this game, there are two sisters, my daughter and me, and her friend and her friend's dad, so we can separate pretty easily by family.

We ran our third session back in February and I wanted to talk about some of the fun things I did for this session, almost all of them inspired by ideas from Professor Dungeon Master of the Dungeoncraft YouTube Channel. If you're a tabletop gamer and haven't checked out his channel yet, I highly encourage you to. While the name of the channel implies that it's all about crafting stuff for tabletop games (terrain, etc.), it's really not. That's part of the channel, but the theme of the channel is "how to run the ultimate game of D&D and other role-playing games." 

For this session, the group of adventurers started out in a goblin prison, which I created as one of 12 rooms in a large complex of goblin caves that are, in fact, the Goblin Caverns from the Caves of Chaos, from module B2: Keep on the Borderlands. The players don't realize they are in those particular caves yet, and it really wouldn't mean anything to them anyway, since they are all new to the game and have no history with this particular scenario. 

Having dispatched one goblin guard (while the other one ran away), the adventurers were without equipment, armor, or weapons, with only a very rustic goblin club as a weapon, recovered from one of their jailers, and a small lamp with a fading phosphorescent mushroom providing faint light. I got the mushroom lamp idea from the Dungeoncraft channel and I liked the aesthetic of how it sounded.

I had a hand-drawn map of the goblin caves with each room labeled, inside a notebook. Inside I have notes relating to each room, and, once again taking a tip from Dungeoncraft, I color-coded each room as related to its lethality. 

I'm using a modified version of an idea from Index Card RPG, in which each room is assigned a Difficulty, and everything in that room uses that same Difficulty Check (e.g., if the room is a 12, then the monsters have a 12 AC, it's a DC 12 check to listen, to sneak, to climb, etc.). I'm not going quite that far, and I don't use 5E style skills in my game, so a lot of that is irrelevant. But, for quick on the fly AC stats, it's easy to look at my color-coding and see what the AC of the monsters in that room are, versus having to look through my notes. 

For my 12 rooms, I chose to include, in addition to the prison cells, a guard roombarracks, a kitchen, a temple, a nursery, a laboratory, a mushroom cave, a scholar, and an exit, along with a few rooms my players didn't find or explore yet (such as a chieftain's room). Again, many of these ideas came from Dungeoncraft. I included a small cropped picture of a portion of my DM notebook for this session - the original full map and notes can be found on the Dungeoncraft Patreon, which you can join for as little as $2 per month (I don't get anything from plugging this - I just really enjoy it). I modified the map and changed some of the encounters to make them more appropriate to both my campaign world and also for my daughter's age group of 10 and 11 year-olds. 

One book I've really enjoyed for inspiration, and which I acquired just a week or so before this particular session, is Veins of the Earth by Patrick Stuart. It's all about adventuring in underground environments and how terrifying it can be, in the pitch black, and a suffocating feeling of tons of rock right above you that could potentially collapse in and bury you at any time. I'm not doing the book justice, but it really helped me with describing what it was like as the adventurers decided to try to make their way out of the goblin caves, without any map or idea of where they were going, and without being able to see. In this version of the game I'm using, there is no Darkvision, and while there is Infravision, it's heat-based, and everything down here is basically one temperature: cold. So, the characters are essentially trying to feel their way out, using the extremely dim light provided by the phosphorescent mushroom lamp they took from the prison cell room. I really liked how something like this played out, versus in a more modern version of the game where being trapped underground in the dark wouldn't be a problem due to Darkvision and other class abilities, and skill checks to avoid getting lost, etc. 

Speaking of getting lost, on the Dungeoncraft channel, at this point in the adventure, Professor Dungeon Master (PDM) had 12 small identical tokens that he'd numbered 1-12 on one side. He put the tokens in the middle of the table and mixed them up, and then allowed his players to pick a token. The number revealed what room they had discovered. He gave them the option to not enter the room if they didn't want, so that discovering every room is not necessarily just a combat. After the players have their characters leave that room, PDM puts the token back into the pile, mixes them around, and has another player pick a token. This simple mechanic represents the idea that the characters can't see well and the caves are twisting and turning and it's very easy to get lost and accidentally backtrack to rooms they've already been to. 

I really loved that idea, but I didn't have any tokens like PDM. However, I did have a brand new deck of cards with faery-style art on them that my friend gave me for Christmas. So, I pulled out an Ace through Queen to represent 1-12. As the players made their way through the caverns, I went around and had each player pull a card to represent the room they entered, and then I would describe it using not sight, but smells, which was another idea I picked up from Veins in the Earth. Depending on the room, the characters might smell overpowering body odormust and moldstale urineincensesulfur and chemicalsroasting meat, etc. These gave them a slight hint about what might be in the room ahead, and then they could decide if they wanted to proceed. My players were particularly interested in recovering their equipment, weapons, and armor, so they explored nearly every place they encountered, but often just from the doorway and while being quiet enough not to attract attention. 

I also included a joker in my hand of cards, which I intended to use to provide the players some kind of boon (maybe a helpful NPC, like another escaped prisoner, or maybe a weapon or something), but nobody ended up picking that particular card.

That takes care of some of the fun and creative mechanics I used for this particular session. Here's a recap that I wrote for the group for specific details if you're interested in more information on each individual room the players discovered. I suspect the entries for the laboratory and the scholar might have piqued some interest from some of you. 

A few things I learned during this session: 

  • My daughter had told me that her character hated spiders, and also my daughter in real-life has a strong fear of spiders and had asked me not to include any "regular" spiders in the game, but said that she'd be okay with giant spiders because they're not real. However, after an encounter with a giant spider in this game (which my daughter's character didn't even interact with), she told me afterward that she was not okay with giant spiders. 
  • I showed a picture of a character wearing a plague doctor costume to let the players know with whom they were interacting, but the picture I found showed the eyes of the mask glowing in a greenish-yellow color. This reminded my daughter of the bad-guy character from the Incredibles II, which gave her nightmares, so after the game, she politely asked me if they could not deal with any more glowing eye masks. This guy didn't really have glowing eyes - that was my fault for picking a bad picture. But, it was a good reminder for me. 

Drop a comment below to let me know what you think of these ideas and whether you'd consider utilizing them in your games
, as well as what you think of some of the different encounters, and whether you checked out the Dungeoncraft YouTube channel. 

THE AGE OF TWILIGHT: SESSION 3

Short Recap: 

The brave adventurers had escaped from the prison, and now faced the long dark caverns of the goblins. Stripped of their equipment, they faced a decision on whether to try to find a way out, or whether to attempt to recover their belongings. Cora in particular seemed interested in finding her equipment after having paid good coin for it. Greta the Wanderer also made it clear that she would not be leaving without her spear, Destiny. Their decision made, the adventurers grabbed the small lamp fueled by phosphorescent mushrooms and began their exploration of the caves. They became disoriented and several times unwittingly backtracked to places they have been before. During their exploration, the adventurers found a guard room and nursery, both of which they ultimately chose not to enter, as well as a Temple where they quietly observed a religious ceremony in progress. Ultimately, they chose to enter a kitchen where two goblins surrendered to them due to the greater numbers of the adventurers. After taking a kitchen knife or two as weapons, the group came across goblin barracks with sleeping goblin guards inside. The adventurers carefully and quietly entered the room and then dispatched the goblins in their sleep, after which they found and recovered their stolen equipment, weapons, and armor. Suitably equipped, the adventurers continued searching for an exit, only to find a laboratory with a goblin alchemist, and later a huge cave of mushrooms inhabited by a giant spider that poisoned several party members. The adventurers later came upon a strange, comfortable room where they met Johann Brunner, who has been living among the goblins for some time and requested that the adventurers stay with him and the goblins. When they refused, he offered to lead them out of the caves, but instead lead them into a trap in the goblin Temple. 

Detailed Recap:

DAY UNKNOWN, THE MONTH OF REDLEAF: GOBLIN CAVERNS

Details on the encounters in the adventurers' attempt to recover their equipment and escape from the goblin caves.

  • GUARD ROOM. Six goblins were in this room, along with a giant centipede. Amongst the musty, moldy smell, the goblins were gambling, using humanoid ears as currency, and betting on cockroach races. The adventurers did not enter this room.
  • NURSERY. There were about 40 goblin infants in this room and 10 adults, a mixture of nursemaids and guards, and a strong smell of sour milk. The infants were screaming and crying, and the nursemaids were using unorthodox methods, including physical violence, to quiet them. The adventurers took a long time discussing whether they should enter the nursery, kill the adults, and free the infants, but ultimately it was decided that they had no way of caring for the infants. There was discussion of creating a kind of "goblin baby resistance" as well, and Cora in particular seemed interested in following up on this idea in the future.
  • PRISON CELLS. The adventurers had been here before but got lost and ended up backtracking to where they escaped after regaining consciousness.
  • KITCHEN. Inside were a goblin "chef" and his assistant who were preparing a meal. Crudely carved bowls and plates had been set up along a long wooden table. The kitchen smelled of foul roasted meat, and clumps of hair were found on the floor that appeared to have been shaven from whatever animal was being cooked. The adventurers surprised the two goblins and due to their numbers, the goblins were afraid and immediately surrendered without a fight (I rolled morale for the goblins and got a two "1s" - a "natural 2"). The adventurers bound them and then took some crude knives and cleavers, made from bones and sharpened rocks, to use as weapons should they need them. Alexandra also opted to eat some of the roasted meat that was on the spit over a fire. It had a strange taste.
  • MUSHROOM CAVE. Inside this huge cave were found phosphorescent mushrooms everywhere. Bartolo the Seeker and Alexandra went into the cave, and both were attacked and poisoned by a huge cave spider, put there as a guard by the goblins to prevent people from stealing the mushrooms.
  • TEMPLE.  A faint smell of incense wafted toward the adventurers as they witnessed a strange ceremony, which Bartolo identified as religious in nature. A group of about 15 or more goblins knelt and bowed before another goblin in elaborate priest robes who held aloft a huge albino maggot. The adventurers also noticed a statue of a huge goblin with rubies for eyes, and a blood-stained altar made of red stone with some oddly glowing veins in the rock.
  • BARRACKS. Following the overpowering scent of body odor, the adventurers discovered seven sleeping goblins on mangy, flea-bitten pelts. The adventurers noticed their equipment, weapons, and armor and chose to slay the goblins in their sleep and recover their possessions.
  • LABORATORY.  A smell of sulfur and chemicals came from this room, where inside the adventurers saw tables on which were boiling liquidsbottlesvials, and beakersstrange insects in cages, and two goblins along with a weird spider-goblin hybrid. A fight ensued, and the head goblin, dressed in a leather apron and wearing goggles, threw vials at the adventurers, which exploded and set off a raging chemical fire. The adventurers eventually prevailed, and a few of them grabbed some random bottles and vials as they evacuated from the fire.
  • SCHOLAR. In this strange room, which smelled faintly floral, with hints of smoke and old books, the adventurers saw a four-poster bedbookshelves, and a desk. A menacing figure, dressed in a black robe with a huge black hat and with a face like a huge bird beak, jumped up and held aloft a vial that appeared to be from the laboratory, threatening to throw it at the adventurers. After everyone calmed down, the figure removed the hat and beak-mask, revealing them to be part of a plague-doctor outfit, and introducing himself as Johann Brunner, student at the University in Lower Oldenstein. Johann explained he was part of an adventuring party that was ambushed by the goblins, who mistook Johann for a monster due to his plague doctor costume. Johann has been living among them ever since, learning about their hierarchical structures, their religion, drawing maps of their caves and anatomical structure. He offers the adventurers prickly cave pear, which he also eats, as well as wine from a barrel marked with a label identifying it as being from the Durnhelm Vineyards, and clear fresh water to those who don't drink wine. He noted that several of the adventurers seemed ill or wounded, and provided special concoctions to heal them. After dining with the adventurers and answering questions about the life of the goblins and their culture, including their religious ceremony about the apocalyptic Great Grub cult, Johann invited the adventurers to stay with him and learn more about the ways of the goblins, whom he says are violent, but no more so than their surface-dwelling brothers. The adventures kindly refused this offer, and Johann agreed to show them to the exit. However, after re-donning his plague-doctor outfit, Johann instead lead the adventurers into a trap in the heart of the goblin Temple, explaining that it won't do for outsiders from the nearby keep to learn of the location of the goblin caves, because they would bring invaders and it would upset the delicate hierarchy of the goblin civilization. The adventurers realized too late that trusting someone as crazy as Johann was a mistake, and now must make use of what information they learned while in Johann's quarters, to find a way out of the caves ahead of an angry mob of dozens of goblins.

 

Hanging: Home office (laptop) and on the couch and dining room table (DM notebook)

Drinking: Visited the pub earlier today and ended with a "Ferrari" (half Fernet Branca, half Campari)
Listening: "The Only Living Boy in New York" by Simon & Garfunkel, from the album "Over the Bridge of Time: A PaulSimon Retrospective (1964 - 2011)"

 


Monday, March 1, 2021

RPG Review: The Obsessive Hunter

Cover Image from Taylor Lane's
Twitch Page
for
The Obsessive Hunter 

Disclaimer:
I was provided with a PDF copy of this product for review purposes. 

The Obsessive Hunter is an OSR-style class "template" (for lack of a better word) by Taylor Lane. Taylor is an active member of the tabletop role-playing game community on Twitter, and stands out among many new designers and players as having gravitated toward the so-called "old school" community as opposed to the current 5E edition of the world's most popular role-playing game. It's encouraging to see the number of new content creators who are gravitating toward older versions of the game, bringing a fresh perspective and new ideas to a sub-category of role-playing games some have portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as full of stodgy old men who aren't open to change. 

Before getting into the review itself, I want to talk a bit about my review criteria and why I picked these specific areas as being important.  As I continue to review RPG products in the future, I'll be adopting a format reminiscent of the one I use when I judge the One Page Dungeon Contest each year. In looking back on some of my past reviews, I noticed I that I don't always judge products on the same criteria, resulting in some uneven reviews that I'd like to avoid in the future. For the foreseeable future, I'll be reviewing the following components of each RPG product, in the same order, to make it easier for you to find what you're looking for so you'll be able to tell if the product is for you: 

  • Product Category. 
    • This isn't one that I use for the One Page Dungeon Contest, but it makes sense considering I've reviewed products ranging from adventure scenarios to campaign settings to design guides. 
  • Premise. 
    • For the One Page Dungeon Contest, this is mainly used for me to judge whether the adventure has an instant and easily identifiable hook that a referee can use to help get a group of adventurers involved quickly. For standard RPG reviews, I'll be using this broad category as a way to describe whether the product is filling a particular niche or if it's easy to see how one would use this in a game, and also the basic mechanics of what is being reviewed. This will most likely be the longest section of each review. 
  • Layout and Design (including Art).
    • This is pretty self-explanatory, but more and more as I judge products, I'll be looking about how the material is presented and if it's done in a way that makes it easy to use at the table as well a fun to read and refer to. 
  • Characters.
    • For products that include NPCs, I'll be looking at how they are described, their motivations, and whether the designers gives tips on how to role-play those characters so that a referee can drop them into an encounter with minimal prep-work. This category won't apply to every product I review, of course. 
  • Map.
    • Again, this won't apply to every product, but for ones that include a map, I'll review whether the map is actually useful for running the game or whether it's mainly decorative or (even worse) an after-thought. 
  • Grammar/Spelling.
    • Those who have read my reviews of the One Page Dungeon Contest every year know this is something I pay a lot of attention to, and I have graded down otherwise good entries because the designer constantly misspelled words or used improper grammar. While some may think this is me just being nitpicky, poor spelling and grammar interferes with comprehension and makes it difficult to run things quickly at the table when one is stumbling over improperly spelled words or poorly constructed sentence structure. 
  • Usefulness.
    • This category is somewhat related to the Premise, but it's mainly for discussing how useful a product is, both in terms of the mechanics and design, but also if it's something that serves a purpose and can easily be used at the table. 
  • Other.
    • This is a broad category that I use to judge the creativity and other unexpected things that a designer puts into a product to go above-and-beyond. It's difficult to define, and it's really more about how well the product appeals to me, so I'll be sure to point this out specifically as things that appeal to me as a gamer may not work for you. 
And with that, let's dive into The Obsessive Hunter and see how it stacks up. 

Product Category.
This is a short 4-page class guide, described as being an "OSR class." It's less of a stand-alone class and more of a template that can be applied to either the fighter or thief class to create something that's akin to a paladin-ranger multi-class. 

Premise.
The idea of this class template is to use the ambiguity of "what is a monster?" versus "what is a person?" to create unique role-playing situations that explore a character's morality. 

This could have been set-up a little better at the beginning in the description of the class, as it's not until the end of the class description that this is discussed in detail. The set-up does talk about how there are monsters that look like people, and people that look like monsters, and that the obsessive hunter is called to destroy them to save the world, but it wasn't until the end of the class description that I really understood what the creator was attempting to do with this class.

The mechanics of the class mention using either standard fighter or thief attack tables and skills, depending on system you're using. On top of that, the obsessive hunter then lists a number of "values" which are things that the character believes only monsters do, and that the character would never do. 

These values then become a mechanical modifier to certain die rolls during play, but can also cease being values and instead become "justifications." The justifications also modify certain rolls. 

It is through the combination of the values and the justifications that this guide offers what is probably its most innovative mechanic, and that is the experience progression for the class. Rather than advancing in level based on a standard XP progression table, the class instead advances by comparing Values to Justifications, including the HD of the monster defeated in combat, adding in the lowest and highest level of the rest of the party members, and a die-roll mechanic for a randomizer. 

The obsessive hunter also gains some level-based abilities, including a mount and animal companion, monster lore (providing modifiers to interacting with that particular monster), being able to tell whether someone has betrayed your values, keeping trophies from your kills (which add other mechanical benefits), and some role-playing abilities involving convincing monsters to flee or to attack, among a few others. 

What really would help immensely with the product are examples of different values and justifications, and how a value might end up being a justification and its effect on how the character operates in that circumstance. 

Layout and Design.
This is a four-page product with no cover or art, and the layout utilizes a clean format and a very easy-to-read font that's a perfect size for reading on screen, and it uses bullet points to help organize information rather than big walls-of-text. Interestingly, the product uses a landscape format rather than portrait, which I actually like quite a bit. Given that most screens (other than mobile phones) are landscape, I've often wondered why more PDF-only products don't utilize a landscape layout. 

The layout does not utilize any headers for different sections, and overall the effect is detrimental to the comprehension of the class. While the document is short, at four-pages, using a combination of headers and section breaks to organize the class abilities into different sections would make finding key information much easier. In addition, the formatting begins as a three-column format on the first introductory page, then moves to two columns for pages two and three, and ends with a one-column format. It would have been preferable to utilize the same column layout throughout the document. 

Lastly, in one instance, a line that was intended to be at the top of the following page accidentally appears at the bottom of the previous page, and combined with the change in the number of columns, was a bit confusing to read. [Edit: I've just learned that this line-return had already been caught and fixed between the time I received a copy for review purposes.]

Fortunately all of these issues could be easily fixed with just a small amount of effort on the part of the creator. 

Characters & Map.
I'll skip these two sections for this product, as they aren't relevant. 

Grammar/Spelling.
[Edit: I spoke with Taylor and these have been fixed already, but I'm going to leave these comments here so other designers and creators can benefit from the analysis].

Overall, the grammar and spelling are good. There's a persistent issue with mistakenly using "it's" instead of "its," and again, long-time readers will know this is something that I mention during the One Page Dungeon Contest every year. Here's my quick tip: Unless you are saying "it is," then you want to use "its." 
"It's raining" is correct ("it is raining").

 

"...feel free to take a trophy from it's possessions..." is not correct (you are not saying "it is" possessions). 

That's really the main issue in terms of spelling and grammar, although I did notice what I think is another error toward the end of the document - it appears (and I could be wrong and not understanding the difference between these two terms as they relate to the mechanics of the class) that the term "values" is switched as the end of the document to "virtues." I suspect that the author had originally used one terms and wanted to change it, but forgot to search-and-replace for all instances of the previous term. Again, this is something that can easily be fixed in a subsequent revised version. 

Usefulness. 
This is an interesting class that does offer a lot of unique and compelling role-playing opportunities, but a lot of it does depend on the referee ensuring that the player is following the rules outlined in the class and not abusing the bonuses offered by taking a lot of values without converting some of them later to justifications. The class relies on the idea that a character might think someone or something is a monster, but later violate that value by encountering a creature that blurs the line between monster and person (e.g., the document uses "cannibal" as one example). The class description specifically notes that it is highly expected that obsessive hunters will betray their virtues (values?) and be required to take new ones that better reflect their current world view. 

While this could be fun to explore in a game, it's something that the entire group of players should agree to beforehand. Exploring these kinds of issues is often part of old-school games, such as whether the paladin should kill the infant werewolves, knowing that they will one day grow up into evil adults that feed off the locals. Those types of moral questions have existed almost since the hobby began, and while it can be interesting to contemplate those issues occasionally, if everyone involved isn't looking to frequently have those types of discussions, it could create tension in the group. 

The experience point leveling is quite interesting, but without having play-tested the class or done a few example class builds, I can't say what kind of impact it would have compared to the standard XP level progression tables and whether it would be too fast or too slow. A quick look and some back-of-the-envelope calculations would seem to indicate that in order to increase level, the obsessive hunter would need to have quite a few values and only a few justifications. Having a higher count of values can give the character 5E-style "advantage" on die rolls related to fighting monsters that have violated your values, so it would seem to be doubly advantageous to have as many values as possible. The text does address this, noting that the referee can create situations where having too many values is less advantageous, but there is no guidance or examples given for how to do this. 

Other.
I really liked that this class wasn't just another standard array of typical paladin and ranger abilities (tracking, healing, spellcasting) tacked onto an existing class, which is honestly what I was expecting, based on the name of the class. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see quite a few new and innovative ideas presented. I'm also a big fan of creating situations and hooks for players to role-play their characters more. 

I do have to say that given the layout/presentation, I did get a little confused on how some of the different class abilities worked, and I really think that given how different this class operates versus the standard OSR type class, some examples of different values and justifications would be extremely helpful. Also, I think this is a type of product that is absolutely calling for some type of "Designer's Notes" side-bars discussing where the ideas came from and the inspiration for making the class. There's some of this in The Obsessive Hunter, but it's sprinkled throughout the mechanical write-up of the class, whereas I think it would be better in a boxed section at the end or off to the side. 

Given the very low price-point (the class is only $1.00), there's little downside to checking out this class for some new and different class-based mechanics that are not normally found in OSR style fantasy games. Even if you don't use the class exactly as presented, it may spark ideas for how to incorporate ideas like a character's morality into a game as an alternative to alignment. 

THE OBSESSIVE HUNTER
  • Format: 4-page PDF (all text)
  • Where to Buy: Taylor Lane's Twitch page
  • Price: $1.00
  • System: This is deliberately written to be used with a wide-variety of different old-school ("OSR") fantasy RPG products such as clones of OD&D, B/X, and 1E as well as related clones that use classes and levels
  • More Information: You can follow Taylor Lane on Twitter to see some interesting and engaging discussions about tabletop role-playing games. Taylor also has a Patreon here



Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Drinking: Fernet Branca (neat)
Listening: "Golden Nectar" by J Boogie's Dubtronic Science from the album "J Boogie's Dubtronic Science"


 

Friday, February 26, 2021

Open Game Content: New 4th Level Arcane Spells for D&D & Fantasy RPGs

"Commission - Elf"
by Ioana-Muresan is licensed
by CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

This is the fourth post in a series I'm writing of new arcane spells for D&D games. While these are designed using the Old School Essentials rules system (a re-statement of the 1981 Basic and Expert rules, commonly called "B/X"), as I've been discussing on Twitter this week, there are a lot of similarities between the B/X version of spells and the 5E versions; enough, in fact, that a 5E player or DM could use most B/X spells "as is" with very little conversion needed. 

As discussed in my post on 3rd level spells, while I originally designed these spells to be used for the B/X Sorcerer class I wrote so that they have a different spell list than elves and magic-users, you could also use these for different alignments of magic, for different schools, or to have different lists of spells for elves versus magic-users. 

The inspiration for these spells is to make them a bit more weird and magical than the standard D&D spells we're all used to, so most of them include an "optional weird effect" that players and referees can use to create some unique consequences. While some of the optional effects have mechanical applications, others are mainly for flavor and role-playing opportunities. 

Ideally once I've posted spells for each level here on the blog and received comments and suggestions, I'll work on revising them and putting them into a fun supplement that will include the B/X Sorcerer class I wrote, all the new spells, ways to modify the existing spells to re-write the flavor to make them more strange, and some other ideas such as magical failure, wild magic, and sorcery campaigns (particularly campaigns where sorcery and wizardry are considered different). 

That's where you all come in - I'm always looking for comments, suggestions, and criticisms to help improve these spells (and any other content I post here on the blog). 

4th Level Arcane Spells

Eldritch Conflagration

Duration: 6 rounds
Range: The caster

 The caster is engulfed in magical flames of a mystical color chosen by the caster.  

  •  Fire immunity: The caster is immune to natural and magical fire-based attacks.
  • Cold: The caster takes double damage from creatures or attacks that use cold or ice.
  • Melee attacks: The caster’s melee attacks deal 1d6 +2 points of damage on a successful hit. Victims who take damage must save versus spells or catch fire for D4 + 2 rounds, taking 1d6 damage per round and suffering -2 to all rolls for the duration of the spell.
  • Extinguishing the flames: Can only be accomplished with a dispel magic spell or a higher-level cold or ice-based spell.

Optional Weird Effect: This spell does not function unless the caster has been exposed to natural sunlight in the past 24 hours. When casting the spell, the caster has a brief connection to the sun and believes it to be sentient. Part of the sun’s lifeforce is diminished each time a caster uses eldritch conflagration.

 

Enhanced Healing

Duration: 6 turns +1 per level
Range: The caster

The caster gains the ability to heal much faster and ward off poison and disease.

  • Healing:  3 rounds after being damaged, the caster regains 1hp per round until fully healed.
  • Disease and poison: +4 to save versus poison and any saving throw to avoid disease.   

Optional Weird Effect: The caster takes on an animal-like behavior and appearance during the spell. The caster becomes feral and vicious, growls while talking, and grows patches of hair all over the body. Over time with continued casing of the spell, these traits may become permanent (save versus spells to avoid, with bonuses or penalties determined by the referee). Continued use of the spell also appears to slow the caster’s aging, although this could just be a an illusion.

 

Eyes of the Void

Duration: Instant
Range: 120’

The caster’s eyes emit a beam of void power toward a subject within range, who suffers one of the following effects, determined randomly or selected by the referee (who may allow the player to choose):

  • Damage: 1d6 damage per level of the caster, with a successful save versus spells indicating half damage.
  • Disease: Inflicts a terrible unnatural disease for 2d4 days, during which time the subject suffers -2 to all rolls, and natural healing takes twice as long. Magical healing has no effect on the subject, but the disease can be cured with a cure disease spell.
  • Blindness: Subject is blind and cannot attack for 2d4 turns.
  • Paralyzed: Subject is paralyzed for 1d4 + 3 turns, with a successful save versus paralysis reducing the duration by half.
  • Withering: One of the subject’s ability scores is reduced by half (caster’s choice of which score is affected) for 2d4 hours, with a successful save vs spells reducing the duration by half. Effects caused by negative modifiers take place immediately (e.g., Hit Point modifiers for CON or Magic Saves for WIS; see Ability Scores in Core Rules).
  • Void Slime: The subject is turned into a slime made of nightmarish goo from the void, but otherwise similar to a green slime (see Green Slime in Classic Fantasy Monsters). The subject retains its hit points, but otherwise becomes a green slime with all special abilities, behavioral patterns, and intelligence of the slime. The effect lasts for 1d4 + 1 days, with a successful save versus spells reducing the duration by half.

Optional Weird Effect: The caster sees into the void and realizes that cosmic horrors are providing their power in return for making the caster their prophet. The caster must save versus spells each time when casting the spell. Upon the first failed save, the caster will start a new religion dedicated to worship of the cosmic horrors of the void and will insist on spending part of each day recruiting cultists and proselytizing ancient, strange dogma. The caster will thereafter suffer a permanent -4 reaction roll penalty toward lawful creatures. The caster’s preaching is considered heretical and is probably illegal in most civilized nations.


Greater Eldritch Armor

Duration: 1 hour/level
Range: The caster

Creates a visible suit of mystical force with an ancient, intricate and fiendish design.

  • AC bonus: +4 to the caster’s AC
  • Strength bonus: +2 to the caster’s strength
  • Summoned chaotic creatures: Appear fearful of the caster and must save versus spells to attack. Additionally, if the caster rolls a 9 or higher on the Monster Reaction Roll table (see Encounters in Core Rules), the caster can wrest control of the creatures and give them a single command (flee, attack, disengage).
  • Threatening: -3 penalty to NPC reaction rolls against lawful creatures (see Encounters in Core Rules)
Optional Weird Effect: While using the armor, the caster’s alignment shifts one step toward Chaos (e.g., from Lawful to Neutral, or Neutral to Chaotic). The caster is aware this is happening but will exclaim that sacrifices are necessary for the greater good. Fiendish creatures from other dimensions with HD less than the caster will follow instructions from the caster, begrudgingly, but will look for loopholes to turn the circumstances to their favor. The caster must make a save versus spells; on a natural 1, the caster is briefly teleported to a fiendish realm for 1d4 + 1 rounds and becomes aware that wearing the armor has made the caster a minor fiendish noble. The consequences far outweigh any perceived benefits.

 

Lycanthrophic Simulation

Duration: 12 turns
Range: The caster

The caster gains complete immunity to non-silver or non-magical weapons. During the spell’s duration, if hit by wolfsbane, the caster must save versus poison or flee in terror.

Optional Weird Effect: The lure of lycanthropy is strong. Casting this spell during a full moon forces the caster to save versus spells or suffer from the full effects of lycanthropy (becoming a were-creature run by the referee) until the full moon is over. True lycanthropes consider this spell an abomination and will actively hunt those who cast it.


Magnetic Manipulation

Duration: 1 round/level
Range: 60’

 The caster manipulates magnetic fields to cause one of the following effects.

  • Attract: Two metallic items within range can be forced together. On a failed save, the item is forced from the subject’s hand and magnetically attached to another metallic item. A successful Open Doors roll (see Ability Scores in Core Rules) can separate the two items. The spell may force a sword to stick to a metallic shield, for example.
  • Force Apart: Two metallic items in the same 5’ space can be forced apart. On a failed save, the two items are forced apart to the maximum 60’ range of the spell. A sword and metallic shield may be forced apart from the wielder, for example.
  • Deflect Missile: While the spell is in effect, all missile attacks using metallic ammunition within the range of the spell suffer a -4 attack roll penalty. A successful save halves the penalty to -2.
  • Pull: The caster pulls a small metallic item weighing 30 coins or less and catches it.
Effects are subject to the following:

  • Size: Only metallic objects of a size that can be carried in one hand are affected (weapons, shields, cookware, etc.).
  • Saving throw: A subject holding an item receives a save versus spells to avoid the effects (attract, force apart, or pull). Saving throws are modified by the subject’s melee strength modifier, if any (see Ability Scores in Core Rules). Unattended items automatically suffer the affects.

 

Nightmare Mount

Duration: 1 hour per level
Range: 10’

The caster conjures a horse-like mount made of shadows and the stuff of nightmares.

  • Stats: AC 6 [13] and 6 HD
  • Attacks: Cannot attack
  • Movement: 240’ (80’) with up to 3,000 coins unencumbered or up to 6,000 at half speed, and without penalty for difficult terrain
  • Encounters: Normal animals will not approach. Enemies must succeed on a morale check (see Morale in Core Rules) to make a melee attack against either the mount or the caster riding it.
  • Spells: Not subject to any spells except dispel magic.

 Optional Weird Effect: The spell only works if the caster has had a nightmare the night before. The caster must describe the nightmare, and the mount is aware of it. The caster sees hallucinatory images of the nightmare and must save versus spells or attempt to fight or flee them.

 

Power Thief II

Duration: 1 hour/level
Range: Touch

The subject must save versus spells or transfer some abilities to the caster. The subject may choose to willingly fail the save. The caster may pick three of the following abilities:

  • Ability score: Any ability score that is higher than the caster’s current score.
  • Cleric undead turning: As a cleric two levels lower than the caster. Counts as two picks.
  • Demi-human abilities: (pick one) Infravision, detect construction tricks, detect room traps, listening at doors, detect secret doors, immunity to ghoul paralysis, hide in undergrowth as halfling.
  • Fighting ability: Attack bonuses and number of attacks per round as a Fighter at the caster’s level.
  • Saving throw: Any single saving throw that is higher than the caster’s current save.
  • Thief abilities: As a thief two levels lower than the caster. Counts as two picks.
Subjects retain their abilities but are weakened and unable to take any actions for 1d4 +1 rounds. For the duration of the spell, they are at -2 to all rolls.

Optional Weird Effect: Subjects who roll a natural 1 on their saving throw also transfer half their hit points to the caster and are in a coma unable to be awakened for the duration of the spell. If this happens, the caster permanently takes on personality traits and memories of the subject, and the two personalities will constantly argue and bicker out loud, causing a permanent -2 reaction roll penalty.

 

Season of Poisoned Frost

Duration: 1 round +1 per level
Range: The caster + special

The caster draws on the bleakness of winter to create cold-based effects:

  • Armor class: Improves by +1
  • Cold aura: Subjects touching the caster or successfully hitting the caster in melee combat take 2d6 points of damage from intense cold. A successful save versus poison halves the damage.
  • Icy surface: For 20’ around the caster. Anyone caught in the area must save versus spells or fall prone. Standing up requires a DEX check (see Ability Checks in Core Rules).
  • Frost slide: The caster can slide on the icy surface, which moves with the caster, and use it to move across normally impassable terrain, such as pools of water or chasms.

Optional Weird Effect: The caster draws power from the cold, dark winter months to use this spell. Using this spell makes the caster aware that winter is not simply a season, but an emotional and conscious spirit that hates warmth. It is now also aware of the caster.  

 

Venomous Barbs

Duration: Instant
Range: 120’

Magically poisoned barbs shoot from the caster’s fingers, causing one of the following effects (chosen by the caster) on a single subject. The subject may save versus poison to reduce the effects noted below.

  • Damage: The poison causes 1d6 damage per caster level. A successful save halves the damage.
  • Paralysis: The poison paralyzes the target for 2d4 rounds. A successful save halves the duration.
  • Weakened: The poison causes the subject to suffer -3 to attacks, damage rolls, saving throws, and AC for 2d6 rounds. A successful save halves the duration.
Optional Weird Effect: The caster is the source of the venom used to power the spell. The caster must use this spell at least once a day. Failure to do so causes the caster to suffer from an internal build-up of poison and take 1d6 damage per day the spell is not cast.

 

Void Weapon

Duration: Concentration (up to 1 turn)
Range: 60’

The caster touches a weapon, which is then imbued with the unnatural and mysterious power of the void.

  • Movement: Movement speed of 60’ (20’) flying
  • Attack: Twice per round using the caster’s attack table and doing its normal damage
  • Lawful creatures: Take an additional +1 damage on each successful hit. Any damage taken by the void weapon does not heal normally (requires magic healing).
  • Size: Only hand-held weapons can benefit from this spell (e.g., not siege equipment).

Optional Weird Effect: If the caster is forced to lose concentration (such as by taking damage) during the spell’s duration, the void weapon discharges its stored-up void energy in a 20’ radius chaotic maelstrom with one the following random effects:

 

Void Weapon: Concentration Failure

1d8

Effect

1

Noxious fumes. A purple cloud causes everyone to be sickened and unable to take any actions for 2 rounds.

2

Void fire. Weird green flames do 1d6 fire damage and burn flammable materials (paper, cloth, etc.)

3

Nightmares. Everyone must save versus spells or fall into a restless sleep, as per the sleep spell.

4

Void dust. Causes uncontrollable coughing and -2 to all rolls for 2 rounds. If the dust can be safely gathered, can be used to make a weird potion. Maybe.

5

Void fluid. Subjects in the radius of effect must make a CON check (see Ability Checks in Core Rules) or take 1d4 damage per round until a successful CON check is made.

6

Void slime. Identical to a green slime but with an appearance of space and stars instead of green. Moves to attack the closest creature.  

7

Void fog. Subjects in the radius of effect are effectively blind and can’t attack.

8

Void snow. The temperature drops and it snows pieces of void. Subjects in the radius of effect are covered in void particles carrying an awful stench that lingers for 1d4 days and cannot be washed off. The subject cannot surprise anyone during this time.  

 

Wood Shape

Duration: Permanent
Range: 10’ around the caster

The caster can arrange any amount of wood objects in the range of the spell into whatever form is desired. The caster may cause wooden items to lose their straightness, form, or strength, doors to swell or shrink, boats to spring leaks, etc.


Hanging: Home office (laptop) and living room (notebook)
Drinking: Fernet Branca (neat)
Listening: "Sure Thing - Black Motion Anniversary Mix" by St. Germain and Black Motion from the album "Tourist (Tourist 20th Anniversary Travel Versions)"

Thursday, February 11, 2021

10 Years of Daddy Rolled a 1 (Blog Anniversary)


Today marks 11 years since I started blogging,
way back in 2011. I started this little venture after having spent a ton of time reading James Maliszewski's Grognardia blog starting in 2010. When I discovered his blog, he'd already been blogging about the history of role-playing games and waxing nostalgic about classic RPGs for about two years. I dedicated myself to start at the beginning and I read through every post, and all of the comments, that he'd made up until the time I started reading. I even sent him an email letting him know that I'd done this and how his blog had inspired me to revisit the classic RPGs from my youth as well as explore the relatively new (at the time) OSR gaming movement. So, most of the credit for me wanting to start my blog goes to James. 

I'll also say quickly that if it weren't for this blog: 

  • I probably would not have discovered so much great RPG content being published by small independent publishers and bloggers in the old-school gaming space
  • I wouldn't have been asked to be a judge for the One Page Dungeon Contest
  • I wouldn't have developed as much creative content as I have for my own games
  • Most importantly, I would've have met (virtually) so many cool, creative, and kind folks in the gaming community 

INITIAL BLOGGING GOALS
When I began the blog, my goal had been to focus on "all things geek" from the perspective of a dad who was raising a young daughter (my daughter was 2 1/2 at the time - she's in Middle School now) and wanting to teach her about all the things I enjoyed as a kid that she still bring me joy as an adult: Star Wars; Star Trek; the Lord of the Rings; fantasy and science-fiction in general across TV, movies, and fiction; comic books; and of course, role-playing games. In the early days of the blog, my posts did cover a wide variety of these topics as well as sharing news that I came across during the day. 

BLOG POSTING BEGINS to FOCUS
That scatter-shot approach has changed quite a bit over the past 10 years, and while I still post the occasional TV or movie review, the focus of the blog is tightened up a bit to concentrate mainly on three main areas: comic books; D&D content (lately, focusing on content for the B/X version of the game inspired by my acquisition of Old School Essentials and a campaign I'm running for my daughter); and a broad category I call "Inspirations," which are posts about how you can find inspiration for your D&D or other role-playing games from almost anywhere, including history, non-fiction, comic books, and even a customized action figure toy line. 

GROWTH in 2020 and B/X D&D CONTENT
In terms of growth, this past year has been once of the best years I've had overall, and a lot of that is due to the fact that I actually made a dedicated effort to blog more often. I blogged more in 2020 than I have since 2013, at a rate nearly five times as often as I did in 2019 and tripling my total number of blog posts for 2018. A lot of this has to do with momentum, as with a lot of things in life. Often what's needed is to just start doing a thing, and it becomes a habit. Last year, I found that I was often restless at the end of the night and I discovered it was because I had been slacking on my blog post output, so I'd stay up late to work on a post to make sure I didn't fall back into bad habits of not posting. 

Another reason my posting became more frequent was because I began to theme my posts around specific topics, which were mainly around creating content for B/X D&D. That started partly because, as I mentioned in last year's anniversary post, I'd always had this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I'd spent all this time developing a proposal for a 3.5 era supplement on Experts that I never finished. I'd devoted tens of hours to working on that, and it seemed a real shame to just have it all go to waste. So, I began initially by just posting what I'd written in its original 3.5 format, but I also knew that, as far as the old-school community was concerned, a B/X style conversion would probably be more enticing and useful for people. So, I took a stab at converting my ideas to B/X. I first began by making full classes for experts, such as a Blacksmith. Long-time reader and commenter on my blog, Chris B., mentioned that many of them seemed more like careers from Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play. It was around this time that I stumbled across Dyson Logos' "D12 Subclasses" tables. I loved that idea so much, so inspired by Chris' comment and using Dyson Logos' format, I began developing all kinds of subclasses for B/X D&D by making small tweaks to the existing classes. As opposed to doing one class at a time, like Dyson, I instead created themed lists such as City/Urban, Naval/Sea, Horror, etc. You can find all of the ones I created under the Subclasses tag. A few of them were among my top-read posts over the past year. 

Doing those subclasses helped generate a whole series of new ideas for me, and I created a few customized B/X classes, including a B/X Sorcerer class that people on social media who play B/X or Old School Essentials seem to like, along with a bunch of new spells for B/X. 

COMING on the BLOG in 2021
I'll be continuing my series on new spells for my B/X Sorcerer class. My goal with these is to post them here first to generate discussion and comments, and then fine-tune them to publication as a PDF. 

Another topic I'll be working on is posting about my daughter's Old School Essentials game that I'm DM'ing for her and her friends. We have a session coming up this Saturday. Rather than turn the blog into just summaries of each session, my plan is to instead talk about some of the ideas and tips I employed to run the session, and share some of the tools I created for that session. I've got a random encounter table for road encounters (inspired by one from the Dungeon Craft YouTube channel), and I also just created one for hallucinogenic effects that may or may not be relevant to this Saturday's session. For my daughter's game, my intent is to make it a version of "weird fantasy" that takes elements that are strange and fantastical but not gory, gross, or necessarily violent. So, another thing I'll be talking about is how to use something that could potentially be problematic, such as my hallucinogenic effects table, with a group of young players, and getting their understanding and consent before using it. The last thing I want is for these girls' parents to become uncomfortable with them playing the game due to the types of encounters I have planned. 

I have at least one more Subclasses table planned. Once that's published here on the blog, my goal is to collect all of them together into a large supplement with additional content and sell that as a PDF. 

Comic books and reviews will continue to be part of the blog, as I continue to visit my favorite local comic book shop on a weekly basis. One of my comic book reviews from 2020 was one of the top-read posts during the past year, so I've seen that there's still an appetite for it here on the blog, but in a very specific, niche manner - that particular post was about a DC Comic called "Last God" which was based on a D&D campaign, including cartography by one of WotC's cartographers, and which was eventually turned into a 5E Campaign Setting booklet (in comic book form). By contrast, another fantasy comic I reviewed, Isola, received fewer than 1/10 of the views as the post on Last God (despite me personally enjoying both the story, the characters, and the art of Isola a lot more). 

For folks who read the blog, do you like the comic book reviews, or do you just skip past them because your perception is that they aren't related to role-playing games? I've endeavored over the years to always tie my posts back to RPGs, and each comic book review includes a section on how you can adapt the information therein to a tabletop role-playing game, but I suspect many folks never even noticed that because they just saw "comic book review" and skipped past it. 

Another thing I tried last year that was new was asking my daughter to write a guest-review of a book, in this case a graphic novel called "All's Faire in Middle School." I thought it was a good choice for a book as it covered both the idea of a young girl in a brand new school, and also changing from being in Elementary School to Junior High School (which was something my daughter would be doing with the next school year), and also because it included a strong girl character as the protagonist (with whom my daughter could relate), and it included some medieval/fantasy elements due to the protagonist's involvement with her parents in a Renaissance Faire (ticking that particular box for my daughter). My daughter was really excited to be featured on my blog, and I'd always intended to have her write another review, but neither one of us was prepared for the amount of homework that she would have in 6th Grade compared to 5th. My hope is over the summer, she'll have some time to write a few short reviews of books she's reading. Let me know if this is something you'd like to see. 

In years past on my blog anniversary, I've talked about all the related genre stuff I've done over the past year, including board games, conventions, TV and movies, and books. I'm going to skip that for this year's anniversary post. 2020 was a weird year for everyone, and rather than continue to look back, I'd like to focus on looking forward and making 2021 and beyond better than ever. 

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't thank some of my long-time readers and commenters here on the blog, including the aforementioned Chris B., Kelvin Green (who has been reading and commenting almost since Day 1!), Random Wizard (who years ago asked me to be a judge for the One Page Dungeon Contest, something I still do, and immensely enjoy), Timothy S. Brannan, Anthony Simeone, and a relatively new, but insightful, commenter, Timeshadows. To them and everyone else who has read and commented over the past 10 years, thank you! 

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. I really enjoy engaging with readers and learning more about what you do or don't want to see on the blog. I can look at numbers and Google Analytics, but I'd rather hear it directly from people in the comments. 

Cheers. Here's to 10 years here at Daddy Rolled a 1, and looking forward to the next 10!

As is tradition, I'll end with some stats, first from Google Analytics, and then from Blogger with regard to specific posts: 

  • Page Views: 11,774 vs 6,138 (+91.2%)
  • Average Pages per Session: 1.61 vs 1.54 (+4.55%)
  • Average Time per Session:  01.25 vs 01.12 (+17.51%)
  • Bounce Rate: 79.43% vs 79.61% (- 0.24%)
  • New Users %: 88.4% 
  • New Users Total: 5,104 vs 3,059 (+66.85%)
  • Location: US (70.44% vs 69.53%), United Kingdom (4.83% vs 4.88%), Canada (4.56% vs 3.97%), Australia (2.14% vs 2.64%), Italy (1.67% vs 1.11%), Germany (1.57% vs 1.73%), Brazil (1.55% vs 1.46%), France (1.30% vs 1.01%), India (0.83% vs 1.04%), and Spain (0.80% vs 1.17%). 
  • Device: 51.63% Desktop (down from 61.31% last year), 43.76% Mobile (up from 32.11% last year), and 4.61% Table (down from 6.58% last year). Of course, due to have many more readers now, all of those raw numbers went up. 
  • Top Referring Sites (from Blogger Data): 
    • Google drove the most page views from any individual source,
    • Facebook was second, driving nearly 81% as much traffic as Google
    • There's a huge drop to the third referral source, Trey Causey's excellent "From the Sorcerer's Skull" blog. After Trey, and (taking out Bing and Duck Duck Go), the next three top-referring sites are all old-school gaming blogs: Jeff Rients, The Other Side by Timothy Brannan, and Gothridge Manor by Tim Shorts. All of these guys have read and commented here in the past as well. 

In terms of the 10 most popular posts over the last year (since February 11th 2020): 

  • Finally: A New Post (Updated Currently Watching) (August 25, 2011)
    • This is, by now, an "ancient" post here on the blog, having first been posted only a few months after I started my blog in 2011. I suspect it's just got to have something to do with keywords and what people are searching for for them to stumble across this post. It does continue to baffle me how this one specific post drives so much traffic every year. It alone received 3.52k page views over the past year. 
  • Two New Campaign Setting Ideas: One Horror Fantasy, One Post Apocalyptic (January 29, 2020)
    • This is fast becoming one of the most popular posts on the blog, having driven in 2.37k views over the past year.
  • New Comics Wednesday: Revisiting my Post About People Who Do or Don't Read Comics (February 10, 2016)
    • Another "legacy" post from about 5 years ago generated 2.35k views last year
  • Latest Projects for B/X D&D and/or Old School Essentials: Classes and Subclasses Genre Books (August 18, 2020) 
    • This is the first post that came out specifically in the time window between February 11th, 2020 and February 10th, 2021 that cracked the top 10. However, it did generate 969 page views, which is more than double the number of page-views that any single post I created in 2019 generated during the same time period the year prior.
  • Open Game Content: D12 Sword & Planet Subclasses for B/X or Old School Essentials Games (June 3, 2020)
    • This was my most-viewed subclasses post from last year, and I think it has a lot to do with two factors: One, it was one of the later posts in the "subclass" theme, so people on social media had begun to get used to me doing these and were waiting for me to post more, and Two, the subject matter, being quite a bit different from standard vanilla fantasy D&D. This one brought in 707 page views so far. 
  • Open Game Content: D12 Fairy Tale Subclasses for B/X or Old School Essentials Games (May 5, 2020)
    • Another "later" entry in my D12 Subclasses series, and one again, something beyond standard types of fantasy. This one generated 664 page views to date. 
  • RPG Reviews: Neurocity (August 2, 2020)
    • This particular game really seems to have taken off; I've seen that the creator is currently (or just recently finished) a kickstarter for a post-apocalyptic game using the game mechanics and it did quite well in terms of funding. Although this post came out halfway through the year, it's still generated 654 page views as of now. This was the first of three RPG reviews I did over the past year. 
  • My Gaming Soft Cover and Boxed Sets Bookshelves (July 9, 2020)
    • This was sort of a creative experiment for me, looking at new and different ways to present data. It was a follow-up to a similar post I did a few years ago about my hardback game collection. This drove in 635 page views over the past year. 
  • RPG Review: Domain Building (Populated Hexcrawl Series) (December 2, 2020)
    • My last RPG review from the past year, but given that it's only been out for a little over two months, it's impressive that this was my #9 most viewed post across all of the past year. Todd Leback's Hexcrawl series is becoming really popular, and he's currently running a kickstarter, so I suspect that interest helps with driving more page views, which currently stand at 621. 
  • Open Game Content: New 1st Level B/X-OSE Spells, and Twists on Existing Spells (January 15, 2021)
    • This post is less than one month old, and yet it's driven in 603 page views to date, which was enough to make it my 10th most viewed post over the past year. That's pretty impressive and while part of me think it speaks to gamers' interest in new magic goodies for their characters, I'm not entirely sure that's the case. Two follow-up posts in the series, for 2nd and 3rd level spells, have not generated anywhere near the same level of interest, so part of me wonders if I somewhat inadvertently used a certain keyword or phrase that's being searched in Google and driving people to this post. As a point of comparison, the post on 2nd level spells, posted exactly one week after this one, has driven in only 222 views to date. 


Hanging: Home Office (laptop)
Drinking: Toasting my anniversary with some Bully Boy Amaro (a Christmas gift from my wife) and Sparkling Water
Listening: "Run Fay Run," by Isaac Hayes, from the album "Tough Guys" (I'm actually listening to this on vinyl, but the link takes you to Spotify)

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